Friday, March 7, 2008

Why Fountain Pens?

I'm often asked, "Why do you write with a fountain pen?" Here's the story.

I mentioned in my previous post that I'm a native New Yorker. I attended Catholic School most of my life, from elementary through high school, with the exception of my senior year. In elementary school all of my teachers were Nuns. At that time there were daily lessons in penmanship. From the first grade to the third grade we wrote with pencils. Each day we practiced writing majuscules and minuscules, that's to say, capitals and lower case letters. Eventually we were taught to connect the letters and develop our cursive script. The big day came when we were promoted to the fourth grade where we were allowed to write with an ink pen or fountain pen.

The Nuns believed that the development of good penmanship was the sign of good character. And to develop good penmanship one had to write with a fountain pen, ballpoints were not allowed. Now I don't mean to suggest that poor handwriting is a sign of poor character, that would be overly simplistic and not true. However, I must note that I never met a person with good penmanship that I didn't like. This taps into the field of handwriting analysis of which I'm no expert. But it would be interesting to do a study of the handwriting styles of Presidents, politicians and folks who are incarcerated to see if some sort of pattern develops.

I find that when I write with a fountain pen the quality of my thoughts and words improve greatly. The fountain pen is an extension of one's arm - the thoughts move from the brain through the arm and hand and causes the pen to move across the page, it's an organic process. With the use of computers there has been a decrease in the knowledge of how to use a writing instrument. Along with that, a lot of young people do not know how to look up words in a dictionary because they rely on their computer's spell check. I was watching someone write with a pen recently and they were holding the pen with a balled-up fist. They were choking the pen tightly and it showed in their script. The art of writing by hand is still important and needed. If one is filling out a job application, good penmanship could make a difference. Computers are wonderful tools but they may not be appropriate for every means of communication.

On to other matters...

I hope to post some photos of interesting pens on this site and to add some links to web sites where you can delight in the wonderful world of pen collecting.

For my next post I'll discuss pens made by companies that are not widely known, but whose pens are enjoyable to write with.

Have Pen, Will Write


1 comment:

Sheihan said...

Hi Jake,

I wanted to mention how stress, traumatic experiences and trying times in life can not only affect one's patience and personality, but they can have an affect on your penmanship as well. I noticed my penmanship started to take a dive about 5 years ago, but this coincides with an increase in maturity as well as an increasingly rigorous spiritual development.

Also, as an artist...while I could draw someone in real life, and it would be almost life-like, I did not have the neatest of handwriting when justaposed with females or with for example my friend Duc who was more mathematically inclined and less of a creative spirit. I met other artists over times who had far worse penmanship than I, but could produce such beauty.

I think that just as the Jungian study of personality types is complex and results in numerous profiles of various combinations of fiery reds and organic earth it must be in handwriting analysis.

Back to the stress issue, I find that I do not have the patience I once had to write with a pen. I chalk this up to all those years of character building they financial, relationship related or career based.

In any-case...thank you for the thought provocation via your blog.